ECONOMY

Antidote to crisis needed quickly

Growth measures aimed at stimulating investment activity are quickly needed to help get the economy back on an upward track in two years, according to the head of Greece’s largest chamber of commerce, who sees the country facing the prospect of «remaining in deep recession.» Constantinos Michalos, the head of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA), said that drawing on EU funds earmarked for infrastructure projects, public-private partnerships and tax reforms could help partially offset the negative impact from recently announced austerity measures. «We have to move ahead with the measures immediately,» he told foreign press representatives yesterday. After entering its first recession in 16 years in 2009, Greece’s economy is expected to shrink again this year, with estimates for a drop in annual economic output ranging from 2 to 4 percent. EU funds can act as a growth driver, though this would require the government to improve its poor track record regarding absorption rates. Red tape and the requirement that Greece fund half the project has resulted in Athens using low amounts of the 22 billion euros Brussels has set aside for the country between 2007 and 2013. The government needs to pitch in with an additional 11 billion euros. Investment activity could get a further push with the help of public-private investments, such as private jails, in which businesses have expressed an interest, according to Michalos.